The Portland Trail Blazers have begun to establish a bit of a history with the Dallas Mavericks. Whether it’s Game 4 of the 2011 playoffs, LaMarcus Aldridge‘s game-winner in 2012 or the most recent matchup that involved both an improbable comeback and a last-second shot in Portland’s favor.
Matchup: Portland (25-23) @ Dallas Mavericks (20-28)
Venue: American Airlines Center
Time: 5:30 PM PT
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013
The Blazers are coming off a matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in which they nearly blew a big-time lead. They gave up 40 points in the fourth quarter, and they’ll need a full four-quarter performance Wednseday if they hope to take down Dallas.
Game Notes/How They Match Up
The big story the last time the Blazers played the Mavs was the comeback. Portland found itself down big in the third quarter, and it took a massive turnaround for the game to turn in the Blazers’ direction.
This time, the team will look to make life easier on themselves by staying close the entire way. The home crowd will be in Dallas’ favor, and a fourth-quarter comeback becomes much less likely on the road than it is at home.
What both teams have in common is that they’re both better on offense than they are on defense. The difference is that while Portland has struggled to play well defensively, Dallas has been hands-down the worst team in the NBA when it comes to points allowed.
This game has the potential for a lot of points, and if the Blazers can forget about their road struggles and just play their brand of basketball, they’ll put up enough points to get the win away from the Rose Garden.
What to Watch: Portland
The Blazers are going to need a good offensive game if they hope to take down the Mavericks. They’re averaging 96.9 points per game, but if all goes according to plan, they’ll need more than that to take down a Dallas team averaging 100.5 points per contest.
In the Blazers’ near-debacle against Minnesota, scoring was never the problem. They scored triple digits, they had three players who exceeded the 20-point mark and they shot an impressive 58.6 percent from the field. The problem was turnovers, and it nearly cost them by the end of the game.
Portland turned the ball over 28 times by the time it was all said and done. That’s the most turnovers by any team in the league this season, and it’s the reason they almost let the Timberwolves come back and steal a victory.
Taking better control of the ball will be a priority against Dallas, as they’re the fourth-best team in the NBA when it comes to fast-break points per game.
What to Watch: Dallas
When it comes to the Mavericks’ plan of attack, the No. 1 thing to watch is how they defend LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Blazers’ 6’11” forward has taken the life out of the Mavs twice in recent memory with two game-winners at the buzzer, but the big man has done so much more than that against one of his favorite opponents.
Since the 2010-11 season, Aldridge has averaged 27.2 points per game against Dallas. That’s his highest points-per-game average against any Western Conference opponent, proving that the Mavs clearly haven’t figured out how to stop him just yet.
His jump shot is his most dangerous weapon, but his ability to play down low is what makes him so dangerous. If Dallas wants to truly contain the 27-year-old, they’ll have to figure out how to get the ball out of his hands. Double-teaming him becomes the most likely approach, so it’s just a matter of which Blazers player they leave open, and whether or not his jump shot is falling.
Normally this is the part where we focus on the matchup between Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge. The two power forwards have had some great battles throughout the years, and their offensive styles have resulted in a lot of points between the two players.
That being said, Nowitzki hasn’t looked like himself coming back from injury, and so the focus of the game shifts down to the point guard position.
The last time these two teams met, Damian Lillard didn’t shoot the ball well. He managed to record eight assists, but 10 points on just 3-of-11 shooting was a big reason the team fell into a hole early.
Darren Collison, on the other hand, finished with 17 points on 60-percent shooting to go along with his nine assists and four rebounds.
These two players have the ability to become the focal point of their offenses, and whichever one has the better performance will give his team an extra push come Wednesday.
Portland: DAY-TO-DAY—Nicolas Batum
Dallas: Doubtful—Chris Kaman, DAY-TO-DAY—Vince Carter
The Mavericks have never been an easy matchup for the Blazers, but with momentum on their side, Portland could be the ones escaping with a victory Wednesday night.